Tom farms near Harper in Keokuk County and grows soybeans, corn, wheat, oats, hay and produces beef cattle. He also practices alternative crop rotations by growing wheat and hay after his soybeans and corn. Tom has farmed for 37 years and implements no-till, waterways, terraces, cover crops and enrolls land in the Conservation Reserve Program. He serves as a District 7 Director for the Iowa Soybean Association.
What are you doing to practice and promote soil and water quality?
I believe Keokuk County and Washington County lead the state. I believe the current level of funding is adequate to maintain where we are at; however, more funding is needed to take us further down that road. Every year I learn of more farmers who are sold on the benefits of cover crops. And every year I learn of someone who has been using cover crops and suddenly has a hiccup that sours them on the idea for the future.
What needs for soil health and water quality do you see in your region/county?
In order to reach the nitrate reduction considered in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, I am confident that we will need significantly expanded cost-share funds for the edge of field practices and mandate certain restrictions in terms of planting near streams, fall applications of nitrogen, and heavy one-time spring applications without stabilizers.
What could be done with more public funding for soil and water quality?
Looking into my crystal ball, I would say sometime in the future; we will be concerned with falling water levels in our aquifers. When you look to the west and see reservoirs going dry, you have to think that at some point, there will be government regulation restricting tile drainage and perhaps legislation encouraging wetlands and large ponds/ lakes to replenish groundwater.